Abkhazia is a mainly unrecognized state on the Black Sea that has claimed independence from Georgia. What used to be a frolicking beach getaway for lucky Soviets now sits in post-Communist ruin. But for Abkhazian Sports Minister Rafael everything appears to be turning around. His new young wife, Russian opera singer Natasha, gives up her home and custody of her daughter to take a chance on a new life in the country. But when the fiercely traditional locals don’t take to Natasha at all, and aren’t afraid to show it, their relationship starts to crack like the old buildings that surround them.
Domino Effect features a very static camera that doesn’t get involved with the proceedings for most of the film, something that sadly adds to its fiercely methodical pacing, making it feel much longer than its 75 minute run time. Rafael seems oblivious to the observations and conclusions of his wife, stuck in old world customs that show the vast chasm of difference between the couple. Natasha does have an epic encounter in a kitchen with a local woman after a traditional custom not being observed comes crashing down hard on her.
Another bright spot in the film comes when Natasha’s daughter comes to visit, a precocious child that has no fear of the camera at all. Her unbridled energy is the only time the film seems to rise above the stoically slow crawl that dominates the rest of the film. (Kirk Haviland)
Thursday, May 1st, TIFF Bell Lightbox 3, 6:30pm
Friday, May 2nd, TIFF Bell Lightbox 3, 1:30pm